Emily Bengels   -  

A year ago, many of us were digging out our houses from the floods that Hurricane Ida dolloped on us. Now, with each tempting cloud, we exult in even the smallest drizzle and utter hopes for more rain. Just as biblical Egypt had seven-year cycles of feast and famine, our microclimate demonstrates its own mood swings. We do our best to prepare for whatever life hands us, enjoying sunny days and lush rainstorms. We share photographs of rainbows on social media. We celebrate the seasons and speak up for climate justice. In other words, we do our best to ride life’s roller coaster.

Once a week, amidst all this turbulence, there is a moment when time stands still for us. Each Sunday, Rev. Seth sets the ringing bowl into song and gives us a moment of centering. The airwaves dance and offer a soulful chime in their vibrations. The tone reverberates in all our ears and then fades into gentle tranquility. We are ready for wisdom, spirituality, and community building when silence is restored.

So, too, there is a moment of peace before each piece of music. I am anything but graceful, but in an instant, before tickling the keys, I sit calmly and feel musical grace. An old viola teacher once taught me to hear each song before I play it. He said to imagine each piece as an ever-running train. Musicians run alongside it and jump aboard once they sync with its pace. Just before I begin to play, I center myself by listening to the silence so I can hear the melodies within.

Music offers me another kind of centering…a much noisier kind! Though I love writing, no words can express my joy at being able to rehearse again on Thursday evenings with our Old Stone Choir. No fast-paced song can express my elation at having the choir sing songs we have rehearsed in more than a “one-and-done” fashion. No ode can tell you how thrilled I was when the congregation stood up and sang the closing hymn on Sunday (we can do that when the county is at a “Low” Covid level.) Music offers me the centering of community. And what a marvelous community we have!

We are not out of the woods with Covid, and a single rainstorm will not stop the drought. Even when Covid is less of a concern, other illnesses will plague the ones we love. Even when the drought has passed, we still will need to worry about global warming, and there still may be weather disasters. Even when I’ve practiced a song, I still know that I will hit the wrong note from time to time. Life will always present new challenges. However, what endures is community.

Our FUUFHC family is supportive, creative, humorous, generous, aware, and very kind. We still meet in person and pixel, celebrating the options and opportunities that come with new technology. Even when friends sign on from afar, even when we just check in once in a while on email or in our Nurturing Spiritual Journeys Facebook group, we still feel an enduring connection. I love when people who used to live here come back on a Sunday morning just because they’re in town and want to recharge FUUFHC-style. I am moved when we come together to help one another. I’m excited about all the adventures yet ahead of us.

Two years ago, we had a time of physical distance, social drought if you will. Last year was an era of slowly coming back together, aware of threats and cautious in our approach. While remembering the need to be careful, we are beginning to make more plans for the upcoming year. Children are back at services. Child care has returned. More people are showing up in person, and new members are signing the book. Yes, the choir rehearses regularly (come join us on Thursdays at 7:30!). When the county Covid level is low, we are also cautiously sharing a communal song.  The tide is returning, the drought is lifting, and our community endures. That gives me something to sing about!